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Dish co-founder to reclaim CEO title

Charlie Ergen, currently Dish's chairman and previously its CEO, will return to running daily operations after current CEO Joseph Clayton retires at the end of March.

Dish co-founder and Chairman Charlie Ergen is set to become the company's CEO -- again. Dan Farber

He has been there once before, but Dish co-founder Charlie Ergen has plans to step back into the C-Suite next month, the satellite television provider announced Monday.

After nearly four years as Dish CEO, Joseph Clayton will retire from his post on March 31 and hand his title back to Ergen, the company's chairman and former CEO. In his role, Ergen is expected to continue Dish's plan to fundamentally change its business by focusing less and less on satellite television.

"He has set the stage for what will become a new company," Ergen said of Clayton in a statement Monday, "and with that he has prepared a new class of management to address the adventures coming our way."

Over the last several years, Clayton, with help from Ergen, has slowly but surely begun transforming Dish's business. Dish has been watching its customer base slide. In 2014, Dish's pay-TV subscribers hit 13.88 million, down from 14.06 million at the end of 2013. The company activated 2.6 million subscribers during the year, compared with 2.67 million in 2013.

As the satellite business has slowed down, Dish has begun to focus on other initiatives. Earlier this month, the company launched its Sling TV operation, allowing people to pay $20 per month for access to live streaming content from several major networks, including ESPN and TBS.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission announced that Dish won an auction for the so-called AWS-3 spectrum. The spectrum, which cost Dish and partners $13.3 billion, adds to its current stockpile of wireless spectrum and lends even more credence to the idea that the company is considering an entrance into the wireless service business in some way.

Ergen has publicly said that he would consider jumping into wireless to compete with the likes of Verizon and AT&T, but Dish has so far not made the leap.

Meanwhile, reports continue to surface suggesting that Dish is considering an acquisition of or at least partnership with T-Mobile -- an idea that the wireless provider's CEO, John Legere, seems interested in.

"We look at their spectrum portfolio, and video, as a fascinating idea to consider," Legere said of Dish during T-Mobile's earnings conference call last week. "I think Dish offers a great opportunity for the country and possibly T-Mobile."

Ergen is expected to continue down the path that Clayton has laid for Dish. Ergen, who helped start Dish 30 years ago, has served as the company's chairman since 2011 when he stepped down from the CEO post to give way to Clayton. When Dish announced that Ergen had stepped down from the role, the company said that he would focus on "long-term business development and acquisition tactics in an effort to reach new markets, expand product and service offerings and bolster the company's customer base."

Prior to joining Dish in 2011, Clayton was chairman and CEO at Sirius Satellite Radio. In addition to leaving his CEO post next month, Clayton will retire from Dish's board of directors effective March 31.

Dish did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.